PLAINFIELD, NJ - Family and friends, including friends she only just met, gathered at Giovanna’s Restaurant in Plainfield last Wednesday to honor Shirley Weaver Thompson as she received the 2017 Service Above Self Award from the Rotary Club of Plainfield-North Plainfield. Mrs. Thompson, a resident of South Plainfield, was selected for the award for her “Shirley Thompson’s Christmas” project that she has run for the past fourteen years.
Speakers at the podium who honored Mrs. Thompson were led by Mike Castoral, who presented the Service Above Self Award for the Rotary Club. Mr. Castoral cited Shirley’s project as one of the first service activities he participated in when he moved to South Plainfield, and one that he supported each year until his recent relocation to North Carolina.
Mayor Matt Anesh spoke about the Borough and how volunteer service is a vital component to a thriving community. He praised Mrs. Thompson, her family and supporters for their tireless work on the Shirley Thompson Christmas project, and presented her with a proclamation recognizing her and thanking her for her years of service to South Plainfield’s residents in need.
Council President Derryck White then presented Mrs. Thompson with a commemorative pin, citing how her project fits the Borough’s theme of “vision, family, and industry.” He was followed by Councilwoman Christine Faustini who, on behalf of State Senator Patrick Diegnan, presented Mrs. Thompson with a Joint Resolution of the Senate and General Assembly, congratulating her on receiving the award and expressing appreciation for her work for her community.
Mrs. Thompson’s project includes working with the community to gather food and supplies sufficient to prepare over one hundred Christmas dinners for the elderly and others in need. She also works with local businesses and organizations to gather gifts for children and gift cards for the seniors and teenagers to help make their Christmas Day a special one.
“I grew up in a poor family and know what it’s like not to have Christmas presents,” Mrs. Thompson said after she received the award. She thanked her family and friends who support the project and put in the long hours every year to make it a truly special and highly successful event.
Attendees at the dinner enjoyed the friendly banter and one-liners by the master of ceremonies, Mike Castoral. The Rotary Club’s president, Ravenell Williams, and club member Magdalena Morales worked the crowd by selling tickets for an attendance drawing at the end of the evening. And Rotarian Tom Reedy’s entertaining presentation of door prizes was also enjoyed by the crowd, some of whom received the give-a-way of a bottle of wine from each course of the dinner. A grand prize of a basket of all four wines was won by South Plainfield resident Brian Townley.
Guests at the dinner enjoyed a five course meal consisting of appetizers, Rotini pasta, mixed green salad, mahi-mahi with savory spinach topping and risotto, short ribs with oven roasted potatoes, and individual trifles for dessert.
At the end of the evening, Mr. Williams thanked everyone for attending and supporting the Club and Mrs. Thompson’s project. “When we think of service to others that the Service Above Self Award represents, we think of people like Shirley Thompson who give so selflessly to help others,” he said. He then announced that the Rotary Club was not only donating the proceeds from the attendance drawing, but also supplementing it to bring the total donation by the Club to $1,000.00 for the project. The winner of the attendance drawing also donated $200 to Mrs. Thompson’s project.
The Service Above Self Award is presented by the Rotary Club annually to that special person who has exemplified the Rotary motto in their private or public life. Past recipients of the award include Janice Allen, former mayor and councilwoman North Plainfield (2010 - inaugural recipient); William Parenti, North Plainfield Chief of Police (2011); Michael Townley, South Plainfield resident and Rotary member (2012); Donna Albanese, Plainfield business owner and leader (2013); Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum, Superintendent of Schools North Plainfield (2014); Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp (2015); North Plainfield Mayor Michael Giordano (2016).
For more information about the Rotary Club of Plainfield-North Plainfield, visit their website at www.RotaryPNP.org. The club meets every Wednesday at 12:15 PM at Giovanna’s Restaurant, 1462 South Avenue in Plainfield. Anyone interested in learning more about Rotary and the club is invited to attend a meeting as a guest of the Club.